The shock-value attached to Nabokov’s best-known novel has distracted from his status as one of his century’s most notable stylists, in both Russian and English. Rachmaninoff helped him get to the US, where Wilson and McCarthy were among early friends and supporters, summering together. He met Joyce in Paris in 1937, Tsvetaeva in Prague, and sat back to back with Bely in Berlin. He spent an evening with Stravinsky, Auden and Balanchine, admired Queneau and Robbe-Grillet, and having rented Frost’s chilly house, thinly disguised a character after him. Geisel (Dr Seuss), a friend, named an eagle Vlad Vladikoff in his honour.